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Orphaned Believer


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I've been following Sara Billups. At this point, I feel like I would follow her to the ends of the earth. She is lovely. And, I just realized, it looks like she started her blog at the same time that I started this one...: "Why I'm an Orphaned Believer. And Maybe you are, Too."

Saying you are Christian these days not only makes you decidedly the opposite of hip :) it also, and more seriously, oftentimes can trigger trauma in the person you are speaking to.

Here's the thing: "Christians" have done heinous things in the name of Christ over the past millenia but Christ is still Christ.

I have sat with that for decades, staying a pretty consistent Jesus Freak at home but not wanting to induce trauma by professing my faith outside my home over the past years (the full story is more complicated but this gist is true).

Jesus Remains Unchanged

We need to denounce actions taken under the name of Christ that are not Christian. Loudly.

Sara Billups calls us to "Reclaim the Word Christian". I agree. She says, "dropping our claim of the word "Christian" essentially allows conspiracy theorists and white supremacists to own that real estate."

When I heard that Rhett and Link had abandoned their faith because of racism, I both deeply understood — it sounds like their experience of Christianity was steeped in racism — but also confused. Christianity is millenia old. With lots of bad players, evil doers, twisted leaders, etc. And also, with one simple law to follow put forth by a blameless prophet (who I deeply believe is truly God incarnate).

As Sara says "Christianity is older, bigger, and more diverse than our present reality in the United States." As someone who is currently living in British Columbia, Canada, and who has lived in Switzerland, Japan, and spent long stretches in Australia, and Mexico as well as traveling extensively through Russia, China (not extensively through China, actually, just 3 weeks in Beijing) and Europe — I can tell you that IMHO Christianity has largely been dumped in many parts of the world about a generation behind the US.

I understand and agree with Sara, and would just add that it's not just the US. Much of the world is disgusted by the actions taken by people in the name of Christ. And I would say, rightly so.

We know the horrors done in the name of Christ over the last millenia. In fact, when we talk about things governments have done (and still do) to other certain groups of people such as the Roma, Indigenous, African-American, etc. None of that even begins to compare to what churches have done in the name of Christ. It's one thing to just do horrid evil things. To do them in the name of Love is a whole new level of sick.

So, yeah, I understand how difficult this whole thing is. And still, I say, Jesus Remains Unchanged. We do not have to come to terms with the founder of our faith doing heinous things. In fact, I would argue, and I believe this is Sara's point, the more we show up doing our imperfect best to follow Jesus — no matter our political leanings, we're all in this together — the better.

Show Up

Over the last year especially, life has thrown me some serious reasons to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my faith in Jesus is the fulcrum anchoring me.

My project, Underbelly, ostensibly about helping people through burnout by encouraging and showing how to love that unlovable stuff in life is nothing without my faith. I kept dancing around that obvious point until I realized that I am nothing without my faith and that is not only okay, it's something to start talking about.

I deeply respect other faith traditions (I almost wrote "all" but that is not actually true. There are faith traditions I don't actually respect) I also happen to have stayed steadfastly Christian. Despite the disgusting heinous actions of people who would try to co-opt my faith, who would try to usurp the words I love so much and literally sometimes change their very meaning.

I am committed to showing up, bearing witness. Doing what I can to follow Jesus and let other people know that that is what I am doing. I am so grateful for people like Sara Billups. Because at this stage, showing up feels a bit like that thing when you show up to a party and you're the only person there and you're not even sure if you have the date and time correct and...wait, is that just me or?